The government maintained uneven efforts to protect victims. The government reportedly identified 86 victims, a decrease compared to 117 identified in the previous reporting period. The government reportedly referred at least 57 to care during the reporting period, an increase compared to 41 last reporting period. An NGO identified and assisted 147 victims. However, due to a lack of coordinated data collection at the national level, this data may not be comprehensive. The government reported housing 35 child trafficking victims in a children’s shelter and repatriating 12 transnational trafficking victims; this compared to 35 sheltered and 70 repatriated victims in the previous year. The police reported identifying 70 potential victims, to whom they provided temporary accommodation in police stations, given the lack of alternative shelter options across the country. The government reported identifying 16 Malagasy women in China and facilitated, but did not fund, the repatriation of 12, with some receiving travel documents and basic assistance from the Malagasy embassy in China, and all receiving care upon return. An international organization reported there might be as many as 200 Malagasy women still in a rural region of China, who were also victims of the same trafficking scheme where deceptive or coercive brokers defrauded and sold women into marriages to Chinese men for the purpose of involuntary servitude. An NGO in China reported identifying at least two trafficking victims, helped them pursue legal action, and then coordinated their repatriation. The Ministry of Population assisted 10 trafficking victims that returned from Gulf countries where traffickers exploited them as domestic servants; the government provided all the victims with psychological support and medical care, and five victims additionally received financial aid for their socioeconomic reinsertion and vocational training.
The government remained without formal national procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims or refer victims for care; however, an international organization had previously supported the creation of a trafficking victim identification and referral manual, which the government updated during the reporting period and disseminated to 80 stakeholders in Antananarivo, Mahajanga, Sambava, Fianarantsoa, Antsiranana, and Toliara. While the government offered some protection services, it is unclear how many victims received these benefits. The Ministry of Population and Social Affairs, in collaboration with an international organization, continued to coordinate approximately 700 child protection networks across the country, a decrease from 780 in the prior reporting period. These networks were mandated to protect children from various forms of abuse and exploitation, as well as to ensure access to medical and psychological services for victims. However, during the reporting period, the networks’ ability to provide protective services were inadequate, as they generally referred victims to NGOs to receive care. Four government hospitals had one-stop victim support centers that offered assistance to child victims of various abuses, including sex trafficking; the one-stop support centers were located in Antananarivo, Toamasina, Mahajanga, and Nosy Be and offered victims medical assistance, psychological support, and access to the police and social workers, but the government did not report how many victims received assistance at these facilities. The Ministry of Population in Nosy Be continued to operate a foster care program for exploited children in partnership with an international organization; the program included 10 participating families who received funding from the government, but the government did not report how many children it placed in foster families during the reporting period. The government continued to operate and fund the Manjary Soa Center in Antananarivo, which received 35 children who had been removed from situations of forced labor and sex trafficking. This center provided vocational training or reintegration into the public school system. The city of Antananarivo continued to manage an emergency center for child victims of domestic servitude, generally referred by PMPM; the city, in partnership with an international organization, provided food, lodging, psychological and medical aid, and educational services.
The foreign ministry had the responsibility to systematically inform the Ministry of Population when victims were in the process of repatriation; in turn, the Ministry of Population would contact the victims upon their return and offer assistance, but reports indicated most victims were reluctant to work with the government to accept assistance. The 2014 anti-trafficking law required authorities to consider legal alternatives for foreign trafficking victims who believe they may face hardship or retribution if returned to their country of origin. There were no reports the government arrested or punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, without formal national procedures to identify trafficking victims, some victims might have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system. The government would sometimes require the testimony of identified trafficking victims as a condition of using the police station as temporary shelter. To prevent retaliation from suspected traffickers, trafficking trials might be held in private or by camera for the sake of the victim or witness’ confidentiality and privacy; however, the government did not report doing so in the reporting period. Further, while the 2014 anti-trafficking law entitled victims to restitution, for the fourth consecutive year, the government did not implement this provision.